Sunday, 25 May 2008

Herbs for painful periods

I lay in bed a couple of nights ago, unable to sleep - my mind seeking and successfully finding things to worry about. After a while I decided to get up and make a cup of tea - a relaxing blend of chamomile, vervain and lemon balm - and sit up in bed for a while. It was then I realised that the first dull ache of period pain was what had kept me from sleep.

The pattern for me, for quite some years, has been that the first 24 hours of my period can be quite painful - such that I'll take paracetemol solidly through this period in order to sleep and deal with whatever demands of modern life are happening at that moment. I'd decided in the last month that I wanted to start to try some herbal remedies to help treat this naturally. 

I've read that cramp bark (viburnum opulus) tincture can be helpful with the cramping pain, and also read in a book a recommendation for a tea of black haw bark (viburnum prunifolium), cramp bark and pasque flower (anemone pulsatilla)  - 2:2:1 parts. I tried these yesterday and, it's hard to say after just one day trying them, but I think they helped a bit. I only took one paracetemol. The tea is a bit of an awkward recipe though, in my view, as the black haw and cramp bark need to be made up as a decoction, whilst the pasque flower I just added at the end as for a tea. Not ideal if one's busy or on the move. All three of these herbs are antispasmodic and nervine, and particularly recommended for dysmenorrhia (painful periods). Other herbs that are particularly recommended are: agnus castus, black cohosh and helonias.

While alleviating the symptoms - ideally by natural means, but if necessary by a modern medicine like paracetemol - I also want to get a deeper understanding. In this way, an illness or physical condition rather being a "problem" to be solved, is rather an opportunity to dig deeper, and learn about myself. Sitting in bed the other night sipping tea I got to thinking about the process of menstruation within the female cycle - it is like a time of release, breaking down the old, and preparing for the new. Why should it be painful to release, to let go of the old? It is a natural part of being female. 

So as well as trying out herbal remedies, I'm looking at what I find hard to let go of, and particularly in relation to my femininity. In the meantime, if anyone has any herbal recommendations, they would be much appreciated! I'm thinking it would be nice to drink a regular tea that is balancing for the female cycle.

Picture of Viburnum Opulus with thanks to Yarrow Corner.

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1 comment:

  1. Just been reading this article: Herbal Support for PMS. Quote:
    "There are many cultures where women don't experience the PMS symptoms that we do. Why then does our menstrual cycle cause us so much pain? Menstruation has an inward and downward movement in the body. In a society obsessed with productivity and output, it can be difficult to honor and support the inward energetic nature of menstruation."
    "Menstruation is a built in cycle that provides us with the opportunity to restore and rejuvenate each month. It is a time when the female body releases, regenerates and heals. Menstruation is a natural part of our cycle that can take us into the regenerative and contemplative aspects of the feminine."